The city of Peru hosted one of the best kept secrets of Upstate New York on August 2nd and 3rd at the Twin Ponds Campsite with the music festival Backwoods Pondfest. The intimate music festival was set at the tip of the North Country, only a few exits short of Canada, making for a scenic ride from any direction for dedicated music lovers. Offering weekend tickets as well as single day passes, Friday’s guests were treated with a double rainbow in the early evening after a brief rain shower. Visitors were allowed to select their own campsites with car side camping. Whether in the far off quiet area, woods or grassy field camping, any spot on the festival grounds offered plenty of cool afternoon shade with a full sky view of the bright stars at night. Bands were located either on the Main Stage next to the bright blue school bus, named Lucy (belonging to host band Lucid) or on the Tent Stage, next to the wooded camping, with a soft sandy dance floor.
With a name like Backwoods Pondfest, it wasn’t a surprise that the bearded quartet Blind Owl Band was one of the first bands to start the weekend on the Tent Stage. The Saranac Lake locals consist of Arthur Buezo on guitar, Eric Munley on mandolin, James Ford on banjo and Christian Cardiello on bass. Their aggressive string music mixed with rowdy harmonies greeted festival goers to their neck of the woods with open arms and dancing feet. Spiritual Rez made everyone forget that they were even in New York with their heavy reggae dance music. Toft Willingham spit out rebellious lyrics to the crowd while thrashing about his long blonde hair as Rob O’Block shredded on the guitar. Kory Stanbury on saxophone and Quinn Carson on trombone provided a strong horn section throughout the set as Mohamed Araki surprised fans everywhere with his keytar. Ian Miller kept the party going with a constant quick rhythm and Jesse Shaternick’s lighthearted bass notes. The band has great chemistry as they provide an energetic performance with never ending reggae funk magnitude. Be on the lookout this fall for their new album release, Apocalypse Whenever and upcoming shows at The Catskill Chill and Wormtown Festival.
For the past seven years, Backwoods Pondfest has been hosted by the Adirondack “Woods Rock” band known as Lucid. Their sound is unique as it varies from classic rock to blues to funky jazz to reggae and even doo-wop, a little something for everyone. With the festival set in their neck of the woods, Lucid has a dedicated fan base that overflowed from underneath the Tent Stage on Friday night. “Whiskey Dream”, with steady beats and cymbals from Kyle Murray was a crowd favorite as Andy Deller kept the keys at a playful tone. One of the highlights of the set was Kevin Sabourin repeatedly singing out the chorus line, “Friday is the best day of the week because I don’t have to work tomorrow” resulted in a massive tent-shaking sing along. Lowell Wurster blared off on his harmonica especially during “Backwoods”, a song meant for that weekend.
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad sent out a psychedelic reggae groove that made it easy for fans to dance all night. The band, hailing from Rochester, consists of James Searl on bass, Chris O’Brian playing drums, Dylan Savage and Dan Keller on guitar and Tony Gallicchio on keys who bring a laid back vibe that relaxes and recharges listeners at the same time. The night was set ablaze from the fire spinners and jugglers from Cosmic Karma Fire located to the left of the Main Stage.